Home At 30 has some great resources around budgeting. Today’s post takes on a seasonal angle and shares some best practices and guidance around smart summer budgeting. I’ve compiled five of the best tips in one straightforward article, so read up and start getting excited for the warm weather ahead!
In spite of the continued snowstorms in the Northeast, summer is just around the corner. We are only a few weeks from Memorial Day weekend and the kicking off of what is hopefully a long stretch of beautiful, warm weather.
With the inevitable spring fever and summer excitement soon to be upon us, it’s important to focus on the same financial consistency we show for the rest of a calendar year. It can be very easy to spend, spend, spend without even realizing it once summer rolls around. Everyone has something going on a weekend by weekend basis. This has historically been an issue for me and a lot of the people I know, so I figured writing an article about how to tackle it made a lot of sense!
Tips for Smart Summer Budgeting
#1 – Have a plan and book ahead
Have an idea of plans for the summer when it’s still January? That’s great – make sure to get it locked in ASAP. Airfare in the United States trends towards having cheapest flights available two-three months ahead of the travel date. This can fluctuate quite a bit, however. It’s always good to get plans done and dusted as soon as possible. Avoid booking a spur of the moment trip a week ahead of the flight date; your wallet/purse will thank you.
For example – I am headed to Barcelona the second week of April. I’m also headed to the World Cup in July (in Moscow)! Both trips were booked in their entirety last November. I wanted to get as ahead of the game as possible to not feel rushed into booking expensive trips last minute. My Barcelona trip was booked through a discount service and Iberia Airlines – I’m flying nonstop from Boston for $410.19. If I were to book the exact same flight plan today, things look slightly different budget-wise.
This is just the tip of the cost-savings iceberg in terms of booking everything as far ahead as you can. The AirBnb is cheaper, the tour I signed up to do is cheaper. Not only that, but the stress of last minute booking is out of the equation. Last-minute plans usually put expenses on the back burner.
Book it early and thank yourself when the trip date arrives!
#2 – Know where to find deals on upcoming trips
Step two of booking a summer trip intelligently is knowing how discounts and deals might further save you the hassle of mounting expenses upon arrival. The web, as always, has some excellent resources for you.
For any trip where you plan to sightsee, I’d highly recommend checking out some bulk discounts. A top-of-mind example would be a resource such as Smart Destinations. Booking a half dozen tourist events at once can cut your expenses in half! Additionally, you can get your itinerary figured out ahead of time. Rather than booking day-of and getting price gouged, something like a GoCard puts you at a set price point and provides lots of options on what to do.
There are plenty of resources available wherever you plan to go. Figure out what interests you and get researching! Some serious savings can come out of it, and that’s smart summer budgeting at it’s finest.
#3 – Cut back on indoor expenses
This one goes hand in hand with other wealth building ideas Josh and I have, and it’s even more relevant in the summer. Find a way in your budget to cut back on indoor expenses over the summer.
An expensive gym membership can be a major summer spend for many folks. Why spend hours on a treadmill when you have one beautiful day after the next outside? I realize a lot of people are locked into annual commitments, but anyone with the flexibility to take a few months off should look into it. This one can easily put $200-$500 back in your pocket for something else!
Summer is a perfect time to substitute sitting in bars, coffee shops, movie theatres and libraries for parks and beaches. Unwind from the norm that’s all too common in the winter months. Make an upfront commitment to yourself. Think twice about signing up for anything indoors in the summer.
#4 – The best plans in summer can be free
Make sure you get as many free events on the calendar for your summer as possible. This can be a street festival, a hike in the mountains, soccer at the local field, and more. It’s crazy to me how under-utilized a tip like this is for people my age.
This summer I already have plans in place to hike Mount Katahdin in Maine. This is a challenging, epic climb I’ve been looking to do for years now. I got a few friends interested and we have a weekend set up to make the trek. You can’t put a price on that hike and that view (literally). Additionally, the sense of satisfaction from a day in the mountains that costs $0 really can’t be beaten. I’ll take incredible views and fresh air over a $100 bar tab 11 times out of 10.
#5 – Set up a “summer spend” fund
All of these tips are fine and dandy when written while snow is still on the ground in New England. The inevitable fact is, there WILL be spur of the moment invites and plans you just can’t say no to. It’s times like these where having a dedicated “summer spend” fund comes up big.
In addition to your normal budget for food, rent, utilities, and the like, start making a weekly contribution to a fund dedicated solely to summer plans. Even if it’s $20 a week from October to May – There’s $500-$600 set aside for after work drinks, catching a baseball game last minute, or contributing to an Airbnb with friends.
Setting up a fund like this, and keeping track of it, can help you measure summer spending habits. If you start running out and it’s only July 1st, you know it’s time to take a hard look at your summer budget. Hold yourself accountable to use this summer spend fund evenly over the course of the season. If this year is spiraling out of control, commit to wiser spending next summer.
In summary – Having all of your major plans budgeted and paid for ahead of time, coupled with a dedicated summer fund for ad-hoc events, puts you in an excellent position to spend wisely this summer. Have fun out there!
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Joe Savoia
Joe is a 2014 graduate of Northeastern University and currently works in a field sales role for technology company Acquia. He has worked internationally as one of Acquia’s earliest Australia-based employees and helped in the early stages to develop that region. Today Joe is based out of Boston and lives in Somerville, MA. Joe’s primary interests vary widely, including everything from robotics/AI to finance, blockchain, and the rapidly evolving world of tech we live in.